The European monarchies were to be decisive for the development of frames. French Baroque frames in particular became models for the whole of Europe.
Rare materials like tortoiseshell, ebony, ivory and different imitative techniques like aventurine lacquer were in demand, and frames and mirrors were important constituent elements of the pompous Baroque interiors, contributing to the king’s and court’s staging of themselves.
They had themselves portrayed in rustling materials and wearing opulent jewelry. Baroque frames were very much part of the glorification of those who commissioned paintings, and the symbolism of the paintings often continued in the frame. This is visible in the French foliate frame, for example, where the hand-carved acanthus leaves emphasise the vegetation in the painting, and the voluminous drapery of the dress. Great luxuriousness and three-dimensional effects are traditionally characteristic of the Baroque frame.
In the same period one finds the far more restrained black frames from the Netherlands, which are richly represented in the Museum’s collection.
The 17th century was the Dutch Golden Age with flourishing trade and colonies providing new materials. The fact that the Netherlands broke away from the Catholic church was also decisive for their artistic expression and their choice of frames. The uncluttered interiors of Protestant churches are emphasised by the clean lines of the picture frames. The broad and solemn Puritan frames mark a sharp contrast to the pompous gold and silver frames of Catholic countries.